Category Archives: Family

Father’s Day

Being a father is not easy, becoming a father is…. well, not the point of this post.

Today is my twentieth Father’s Day as a dad, my fifty-fifth as a son, and eighth Father’s Day without my dad. My dad passed away July 20, 2009 after a brief illness and my brothers and I took his cremains to France in June 2010 and he remains at rest and peace with the world.

The three of us, dad, and Julie May 1980, from a scanned slide
7:41 AM Somewhere in the middle of the paragraph above my brother, David, called and we talked… when were finished talking, I got back to writing – 8:11 AM.

I don’t believe there has been a day since, when I haven’t thought of my dad; just think of him, no judgement one way or another. There are days, like today, when he is constantly on my mind. On these days, I call my brothers and check in, or they call me and check in, either way we talk. Sometimes, we talk about dad, or we talk about our kids, or we talk about growing up; mostly we talk about the thread that holds us together – mom and dad and being brothers.

It hasn’t always been easy being brothers or sons or fathers. There is no instruction manual, only a guide. Continue reading Father’s Day

FOCUS – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and the past week has passed quickly, much too quickly. Honestly, the past nine days have been a blur. Summertime is usually my blogging time, school’s out and I am on vacation, sort of. While the past week or so has been a blur of days, I have been focused.

Wednesday afternoon’s rain total – the rain gauge is OUT of focus

This past week I am doing what many educators do over summer break – professional development. I am taking a class on teaching science using the modelling science methodology. The class is certainly keeping me on my toes and I am taking notes and making sure I don’t miss anything. Trying to stay focused on why I am in class in the first place – to use the science modelling framework in my science classroom.

Big Red and me – my signature selfie and a possible future blog post

Last summer, similar class – Modelling Biology but, this summer I am taking Physics: Mechanics. The instructor was my son, W’s, physics teacher and W enjoyed having him – but the class pushed him as a student, just as my own physics class and teacher did when I was in high school. I am having flashbacks to Mrs. Matney’s 3rd hour physics class from 1979-80. The class content is definitely keeping me on my toes and I need to remind myself to stay focused. Coincidentally, Mrs. Matney is STILL teaching high school physics. I made a brief visit to my old high school in April when I was visiting my mom. I asked to see Mrs. Matney, she was out of school at a high school science competition. The year I had Mr. Matney she was selected as the high school’s teacher of the year. I learned a lot that year in science, but I learned more about myself and grew up, sort of. I sent Mrs. Matney a thank you e-mail over a decade ago and she responded that she was still teaching science. I am thankful for her dedication to teaching and especially her patience understanding with me when I was her student. Continue reading FOCUS – a photo challenge

order – a photo challenge

Summer would not be summer without red geraniums blooming on the deck overlooking the lake. Today is summer vacation day three with many more on the horizon. This morning I am Up North on the shores of Lake Margrethe. It’s relaxing coming here, but it comes with a price set up and maintenance. This is the setup visit and maybe I’ll be able to squeeze in some relaxation time into the order of business.

There is order to our work. The dock and lifts must go in first, then the boats, then of course a bit of fun, then yard work.

Thursday morning view of the lake

Yesterday we got the dock and lifts in and one of the boats – the Sea-Doo. The Sea-Doo is the easiest of the boats to get in the water, and according to O, the boat with the most fun potential. Continue reading order – a photo challenge

It’s a long season

I love baseball. I played baseball as a kid, but I didn’t have much talent for baseball or any other sport, but I still played and dreamed. I stopped playing when I was 15, the summer of ’77, but I never lost the love for the game. As a kid, the season began with tryouts in March and games twice a week or maybe, three times a week through early June. It’s a long season for a kid but short in comparison to the season the professionals who play 162 regular season games and maybe get three days off in a month.

My son, W, played before switching to lacrosse, and my daughter played one year of T-ball (baseball without pitching) with boys before she made the transition to softball.

I’ve rooted for several teams over the years, but my home team is the Astros, the Houston Astros. When I was a kid, the Astros weren’t very good they lost more than they won, but when I was a high school they seemed to turn things around and won the division in 1980 with a one game playoff win against the LA Dodgers and they won the division six years later in 1986. Both times they played well in the LCS (League Championship Series) but not well enough to make to the World Series. They wouldn’t make it to the World Series until 2005 and I was living in Chicagoland. They played the Chicago White Sox and lost in four close games. I’ve always been an Astros baseball fan.

I am grateful for late mother-in-law who helped me regain my love for the game. We were Up North in July 2013 and she wanted to listen to her team, the Reds, the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds don’t broadcast Up North, that’s Detroit Tiger country so I ended up resorting to technology and got a subscription to the MLB app and unlimited audio streaming. The first game we listened to was a no-hitter. The following summer, in 2014, I upgraded to the video version of the app and we were able to watch a couple of games when she made her last visit Up North. She passed away in November 2015 and one of my lasting memories with her was talking with her about baseball and football, but especially about her Reds.

Every year since I’ve renewed my subscription for the MLB app and I always think of her when watch the Reds, I root for the Reds when they aren’t playing the Astros and it helps they are in separate leagues.

This spring I made an impulsive purchase and purchased two monthly passes to see all of April’s games for the Chicago White Sox. I don’t follow the Sox, but they are in the American League and the Astros will play them later in the year, and I prefer the Sox to the Cubs – any day of the week. Of the 11 games, I had a pass to see, I was able to make it to two games – one with my son and another with a friend. It was time well spent.

At the end of April, I went to visit my mom and my brothers, but mostly my mom. The Astros were at home and I coaxed my brother to take in a game with me before I left. We were able to see the first four innings before I had to leave and drive to the airport, but it was worth it. We had a good time. The Astros lost the game to the Oakland A’s 2-1.

Continue reading It’s a long season

Memorial Day 2017

It is Memorial Day and I am reminded of the sacrifice of America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.

poppies

I had planned to write a fitting post to commemorate the occasion, but words failed me.

Yesterday we watched the Indy 500 (on television) and I remembered the many trips to Indy and back with my father-in-law, then watching him march in the town Memorial Day parade the following day. I remembered the drive to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery with my dad in May ’97, attending the Memorial Day ceremony at Suresnes American Cemetery in Paris in May of ’97. I remember the trip back to France in 2010 with my brothers, step-mother, and my dad’s cremains.

I searched for words to put together and failed, seeking inspiration I opened and e-mail from the American Battle Monument Commission and found the two videos below.

Today is also the anniversary of my first post: Day 1 – What am I doing? I still wonder what I am doing and there are a lot of words between then and now. I am still humbled by the sacrifice of America’s men and women in arms.

The peonies opened up in yesterday’s sunshine and today promises to be another glorious day, weather fitting for a parade and Memorial Day ceremony. It’s gonna be a great day, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, it’s all that I can do.

What’s on your plate for Memorial Day?

heritage – a photo challenge

The interesting thing about our heritage is that we don’t get to choose it, it’s been selected for us and we have to wear and share it forward, or it ends.

Today, May 20 would’ve been my dad’s 84th birthday. I was looking for a photo to post on Facebook and I found a flash drive loaded with photos I had scanned on a visit home in August ‘11. I found family photos ranging from before I was born until my early twenties. It brought back memories. I remember that trip home as if it was the other day. Where have I been? – August ‘11.

my parent’s wedding day photo – left to right back row – my mother’s mother, her father’s mother, her father, my father’s mother and father. Front row – my mother’s sister – Joy, my mother and father, and my mother’s sister’s boyfriend – Frank

One of the photos I found was my parent’s wedding photo. They were married September 1, 1960. It was the same date as my mother’s parents wedding date 33 years before. Continue reading heritage – a photo challenge

Thanks, mom

I’d be nothing without my mom.

I live almost a thousand miles from mom and I don’t get to see her as often as I’d prefer, but we talk and I occasionally write a letter or note. She responds and I love reading those letters and notes.

A couple of weeks ago, I took off to see my mom. It was a quick trip down and back in about two days. Mom still lives in the house where we all grew up. When I was home, I got to sleep in my old bedroom for the first time in a couple of years. On the morning I was to leave, I texted her that I was excited to come and visit,

Can’t believe I am going to go to sleep in the house where I grew up – can’t wait to see you. Love Clay

and she responded with,

The corner room you and Robert painted ORANGE. It’s still showing on the screen.

Yeah, she let me paint my bedroom orange. I don’t know what I was thinking or why I thought orange was a good color for my bedroom, but she let me paint the walls orange. It stayed orange until a few years later when I left for college, and when I came back it wasn’t orange anymore.

April 2017 – mom and her three sons…

My mom let me do all sorts of things that taught me lessons that her words or my ears would not allow.

She let me make the mistakes that she knew would hurt, but the experience would help me grow.

When I pulled into the driveway at 1:45 in the morning, she was up waiting. It was wonderful to see her. I gave her a big hug and we sat down to talk. An hour later, I had to excuse myself and go to bed, but if I could’ve stayed awake, we would’ve talked until the sun rose.

My brother took the photo above Saturday morning. It was great to see her and to see my two brothers. We celebrated her birthday Friday night and on Saturday morning my brothers came over and we all went for coffee before David had to go to work- that’s when the photo was snapped. Warren and I spent the rest of the day together and I gave my mom a BIG hug before I left Saturday afternoon. Continue reading Thanks, mom

#FinishSTRONG

It’s that time of the year. It’s the end of the school year. As of this moment, there are 19 days remaining in the school year, that is if I count school days only. Sandwiched in between those final four weeks are three weekends and one of them is a three-day weekend. The kids know it, the teachers know it, there is no good way to hide it. So, I don’t try to hide the fact that the days are slipping away towards summer break.

Memorial Park – Sunday, April 23 – today was just as sunny, but the tulips weren’t as vibrant.

Right now, it’s the middle of spring. The flowers and trees are blooming and today is a beautiful sunny spring afternoon. The sky is so blue, I can almost taste it. Last night, we had a frost warning, but I didn’t see any frost on the yard or on the rooftops when I looked out across the yard this morning. It was cool, but evidently, not cold enough.

But warmer days will soon be here, then summer, summer break, and before I realize it, I’ll be back in school again. It’s a cycle, the always repeating cycle of life and the seasons.

A couple of weeks ago I got the email below from a student. Continue reading #FinishSTRONG

He is risen, indeed.

It’s Easter Sunday morning and I am thinking of Betty Fulton. Every Easter I remember her and her reminder that the proper Easter greeting is NOT,

“Happy Easter,”

but, “He is risen.”

She drilled it in to me and every one of her Sunday school students, as well as the proper Easter response,

“He is risen, indeed.”
Easter eggs from 2012….

I last saw Mrs. Fulton at my youngest brother’s wedding some 30 years ago. She was not only my Sunday school teacher, but a friend of my mother’s and larger than life. I am not certain which came first – Sunday school teacher or family friend. She and her husband Bill, would come to visit on the weekends, they lived close and sometimes we would go to their home, but mostly they would visit and talk at the table in the kitchen laughing and telling stories. Continue reading He is risen, indeed.

Surprise: a photo challenge

It’s Good Friday and I am out of school. It’s called a local holiday on the calendar, but it’s really Good Friday.

I am always surprised by the beauty of each daffodil….

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the arrival of Spring in a Time for Everything. At the time the crocus were beginning to break through the soil and return color to the world. Since then, more color has arrived. The grass is greener, the trees are beginning to bud, and the daffodils are in full bloom.

I took a peak at the Daffodil Glade at the Morton Arboretum this morning. And I found the glade ready for our annual visit for Easter photos. It was a surprise. Even though I know every year the daffodils bloom, it’s always a surprise.

yellow on white daffodils are bunched together

Continue reading Surprise: a photo challenge